Past exhibitions

Sinta Tantra: "A Good Time and a Half!" | 12-Jul-08 to 31-Oct-08

London-based Sinta Tantra - known for her exuberant murals and installations in public spaces - produces a new site-specific work for Southbank Centre's Saison Poetry Library this summer, taking inspiration from the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Click here to view the slide show

Tantra has transformed the Library's exhibition space, creating a terraced stage area swathed in colourful painted imagery.  The work pays homage to the performative aspects of poetry, with visitors invited to ascend the stage to enjoy a sweeping panorama of the Southbank Centre. The vista includes exceptional views of the major outdoor installations in the Hayward Gallery's Psycho Buildings exhibition. By interacting with the work in this way, visitors become aware of their own physical presence and the part they are playing in the surrounding spectacle.

The bright, geometric motifs, including angular panes of colour and symbols, play on the seminal graphic designs made by Abram Games for the emblem of the Festival. The event heralded the achievements and potential of Great Britain, and this outward, optimistic tone chimes closely with Tantra's own practice, which examines the power and delight of surface images.

The title of the work, "A Good Time and a Half!", was a quote from one visitor to the Festival. It evokes an old-fashioned idea of fun that, in a society when other meanings of leisure and culture have taken hold, we find antiquated but also attractive - kitsch, honest, more care-free.

The quote also conjures a particularly British sense of jolliness. Born in New York and of Balinese descent, Tantra uses her perspective as a partial outsider to investigate this blend of nostalgia and nationalism. For instance, images of hoisted flags, black silhouettes against the background pink, act to query the nationalist spirit that the British are both drawn to and embarrassed by. The initials GB for Great Britain are also integrated into the work, examining 'the brand' of the country. Palm trees, a symbol of the colonial, are made sinister by their perfect symmetry.

The piece also responds directly to the role of the Poetry Library. The stage reminds us that poems are not just to be hidden in books on shelves - they have a life when read aloud. When we hear poetry read or performed, its language and meaning can be transformed and given a life larger than the written word. For Tantra, the aural quality of poetry relates closely to her art, which is abstract and immediate as sound is to the ear.

About the artist
Sinta Tantra's acclaimed work in the public realm has included the commissions for Camden Council, Transport for London and Canterbury Christchurch University. She curates Camely Street Projects, a public art organisation that encourages emerging artists to respond to the redevelopment of London's King's Cross. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award (2006) and the Westminster City Council's Civic Award (2007) for contribution to public arts.

Sinta Tantra will be exhibiting in two group shows this Autumn - Nothing Works, Shoreditch Town Hall, London this September as part of Open House Season and also Victoriana this November with The Canal Museum, London. She will be having her first major solo show with Gaya Fusion Gallery, Bali November 2009.

Sinta's stage installation will host an exciting range of events and workshops. Click here to find out more.

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